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Winter 2023 - Celebrating Recent Publications & Achievements 














Marilyn Abildskov (photo by Matt Felix)


Marilyn Abildskov (RJFWA ’98) received a 2024 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. She is the author of The Men in My Country. She is also the recipient of a Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award and a Los Angeles Review Short Fiction Award and has received honors from the Corporation of Yaddo, the Djerassi Writing Residency, Ragdale, and the Utah Arts Council. Her short stories and essays have appeared in Ploughshares, Mississippi Review, The Sewanee Review, Story, The Gettysburg Review, The Sun, The Southern Review, The Best American Essays, and elsewhere. She lives in the Bay Area where she teaches full-time at Saint Mary's College of California in the Department of Creative Writing and the MFA Program in Creative Writing. She also teaches at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival.




Adrian Blevins (photo by Katy Corbett)


Adrian Blevins (RJFWA ’02) Status Pending (Four Way Books, September 2023)


“A riotous yet deceptively serious addition to Adrian Blevins’ oeuvre, Status Pending exquisitely leverages the lyric to fathom the liminality of human experience. These poems comprise a stenography of our lives as the buffering consciousness between voided states. Blevins straddles various fault lines as a woman who writes and mothers, who emerges from a second divorce as an Appalachian transplant in New England, who sees from midlife the stringent but unspoken socioeconomic strata framing class conflict. Even perched on shifting tectonic plates, Blevins wins the last word: ‘You don’t seem to know it, // but there are foxes / crossing meadows // out there fast as disco lights. There are loons on your lakes.’”



Adrian Blevins is the author of three previous full-length collections of poetry—Appalachians Run Amok, Live from the Homesick Jamboree, and The Brass Girl Brouhaha—and, with co-editor Karen Salyer McElmurray, Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean, a collection of essays by new and emerging Appalachian writers. She is the recipient of many awards and honors including the Wilder Prize from Two Sylvias Press, a Kate Tufts Discovery Award, and a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award. She is a professor of English at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, where she directs the Creative Writing Program.





Tracy K. Smith


Tracy K. Smith (RJFWA ’04) To Free the Captives: A Plea for the American Soul (Knopf, November 2023)


“A stunning personal manifesto on memory, family, and history that explores how we in America might—together—come to a new view of our shared past.


“In 2020, heartsick from constant assaults on Black life, Tracy K. Smith found herself soul-searching and digging into the historical archive for help navigating the ‘din of human division and strife.’ With lyricism and urgency, Smith draws on several avenues of thinking—personal, documentary, and spiritual—to understand who we are as a nation and what we might hope to mean to one another. In Smith’s own words, ‘To write a book about Black strength, Black continuance, and the powerful forms of belief and community that have long bolstered the soul of my people, I used the generations of my own patrilineal family to lean backward toward history, to gather a fuller sense of the lives my own ancestors led, the challenges they endured, and the sources of hope and bolstering they counted on. What this process has led me to believe is that all of us, in the here and now, can choose to work alongside the generations that precede us in tending to America’s oldest wounds and meeting the urgencies of our present.’”



Tracy K. Smith is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, memoirist, editor, translator, and opera librettist. She served as the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States from 2017-19, during which time she spearheaded American Conversations: Celebrating Poems in Rural Communities with the Library of Congress, created the American Public Media podcast The Slowdown, and edited the anthology American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time. She is a professor of English and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, and a Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at Harvard Radcliffe Institute.


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